Trump’s Conversation With Georgia Election Officials Shows His Conviction That He Won Is Impervious to Evidence
Did President Donald Trump commit a crime when he pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the votes necessary to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in that state? Probably not, but the reason does not reflect well on Trump.
It seems clear from the recording of Trump’s one-hour telephone conversation with Raffensperger on Saturday that the president sincerely believes he actually won the election, notwithstanding the complete lack of credible evidence to support that belief. In his mind, he was not soliciting fraud but attempting to correct it.
Trump’s evident sincerity casts doubt on the charge that he was intentionally encouraging Raffensperger to commit a felony, as required to convict him of soliciting election fraud under Georgia law. But it also highlights the president’s extraordinary capacity to believe anything, no matter how improbable, that makes him look good while rejecting out of hand anything, no matter how credible, that makes him look bad.
Trump begins with the conviction that he won the election. Although the official count shows that Biden won Georgia by about 12,000 votes, Trump knows that can’t be true. He told Raffensperger he actually “won this election by hundreds of thousands of votes,” because “there’s no way I lost Georgia.” The only possible explanation, as far as Trump is concerned, is that Biden’s supporters cheated.
Exactly how they cheated is of little concern to Trump, who floated a litany of discredited rumors and conspiracy theories that Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel, Ryan Germany, politely but firmly refuted. Trump was unfazed, because he knows he won. Desperate to validate that belief, he eagerly accepts even the most dubious claims of election fraud.
“This may or may not be true,” Trump says at one point. “This just came up this morning, that they are burning their ballots, that they are shredding, shredding ballots and removing equipment. They’re changing the equipment on the Dominion machines and, you know, that’s not legal. And they supposedly shredded—I think they said 300 pounds of, 3,000 pounds of ballots. And that just came to us as a report today. And it is a very sad situation.”
Trump starts by acknowledging that the rumors he describes “may not be true.” But within a few sentences, he has convinced himself that the allegations of shredding and equipment swaps are reliable enough to establish “a very sad situation.”
Later he practically begs for confirmation of the allegations. “Do you think it’s possible that they shredded ballots in Fulton County?” he says. “Because that’s what the rumor is. And also that Dominion [Voting Systems] took out machines. That Dominion is really moving fast to get rid of their, uh, machinery. Do you know anything about that
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